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I've got you under my skin


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(USS Unnamed Ship)
::She hated to leave him all alone, but duty called and Esther could not be late
for her post. The Chief Medical Officer would have a conniption fit, to put it
mildly, if she was. And yet, she hesitated one more moment and did her best to
resist one last run of her hand over the ebony that covered his head and trail
it down over his body. Alas, she could not resist and her fingers made contact
of their own accord.::

::He didn't stir, not even the slightest and his eyes remained closed, his body
in a state of complete relaxation. Esther chuckled softly as her hand stole
away from the prone body. The ship could probably go into code red and Alex
wouldn't budge. With a sigh, she turned and headed to the door, though she did
not pass through without one last look. So peaceful, so quiet, but the hustle
and bustle of the day awaited her. She could enjoy it after her shift was over.::

::It was hard to be so far away from family. Esther knew it would be, but she
hadn't expected it to be quite so hard as it actually was. Homesickness had
descended upon her, a thick veil that had coloured everything she did. Thoughts
of home, of her family, of her friends, all sprang up at random intervals, even
though she tried hard to focus on her task. The first week upon the ship, she
had spent most of her nights crying. Her mother had received multiple calls and
she had whined and complained and begged to come home. Of course her mother
would have never refused her, but Deborah had insisted that her daughter give it
more time.

DEBORAH: It's only your first week, dear.

ESTHER: But I hate it here!

DEBORAH: Things will get better, you'll see. You need to give it some time.
You've wanted this for so long and you've worked so hard.

::Her mother was right. As far back as Esther could remember she had wanted to
be a part of the Federation and explore space on a star ship. She just hadn't
known it was going to be so _hard_. And lonely.::

::It wasn't that people were particularly unfriendly, but cliques had been
formed long before she had gotten there. She was a lowly ensign, just out of
the academy and posted to the ship. As far as she knew she'd been the only one
at that time and almost everyone there was older than her. She'd sat in the bar
and listened to the conversations around her, but no one had ever approached
her. Not one.::

DEBORAH: You could always approach someone yourself.

::Her mother's advice made sense, but while Esther enjoyed people, she had
trouble just randomly approaching someone. Then she'd gone back to Earth
briefly to attend her grandfather's funeral. That had made things worse and she
had talked with her mother about staying rather than going back. But Devorah
had suggested that her daughter give it another six months. She was hesitant,
but Esther had agreed.::

::Then she met Alex. The day before her return to the ship, he had shown up out
of the blue. His green eyes had gazed upon her with such adoration, and there
was such an immediate attraction that she just couldn't resist him, so she
brought him back to the ship with her. That had been two weeks prior and he had
made all the difference in the world. He was always there when she returned
from duty. He waited so patiently for her and greeted her with such
enthusiasm. She enjoyed the warmth of his body pressed against her when she sat
in bed and read or when she lay down at night. She loved the way his whiskers
tickled her cheek when she hugged him. He was a chatterbox, but she didn't mind
and to be honest, his voice helped break the monotony of the silence that had
always felt so heavy before he'd come along. ::

::She thought about him a lot. Did he think about her? What did he do all
day? Sleep? Did he dream? Eat? Roam around and familiarize himself with
everything? Did he star out the window to watch the stars as the ship eased
past them? Did he enjoy the comets that occasionally whizzed past or the
brilliant flash of a sun as they passed solar systems? Did he wonder what it
would be like to go out and chase them or prance along the rings of a planet?::

::If only she could read minds. Esther smiled as she entered the data into the
computer. Knowing that he was there helped her day go faster and gave her
something to look forward to. She had stopped complaining to her mother, had
stopped pondering her withdrawal. She'd even managed to make a couple of
friends on the ship. Whenever she went to hang out with them, Alex was ready to
greet her upon her return as usual. Yes, things had gotten so much better
thanks to him.::

CO: All right, ensign, good job. You're dismissed.

::Esther looked up in surprise. How different it was from a month ago when she
had been despairing.

ESTHER: Yes sir. Thank you sir.

::The ensign turned and made her way out into the hall, the lights on the panels
blinked as she walked past. A woman, a little older than hear, and headed in
the opposite direction paused and greeted her warmly.

HILDA: Hey Esther, are you coming to game night tonight?

::Esther returned the smile, then nodded.::

ESTHER: I'll be there, I just want to go check on Alex.

HILDA: All right, I'll see you there!

::Hilda gave a small wave as she passed and Esther picked up her pace so she
could spend a little time with Alex before she joined her new friends. The
doors parted as she approached her quarters and as soon as she entered, Alex
stood and came to greet her.::

ESTHER: Hey boy.

::Esther bent down and gathered the bundle of ebony fur in her arms. His purr
was accompanied by a little trill and then a soft 'mrooow' that was repeated
several more times. Esther wondered if he was recounting his day to her and
wished she could speak feline. Still, she sat and listened, a smile upon her
face as she reclined and let the little creature do the talking. Yes, things
were definitely much better, and she had Alex to thank for that.::

Ensign Esther

USS Unnamed Ship

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